07/06

Podcasting is Not a “Secret Weapon”

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Recently Radio Ink asked whether podcasting was “the secret weapon” to attract younger listeners.

That was based on reports from NPR (echoed by NPR’s Anya Grundmann at hivio recently) that, thanks in large part to on-demand content and digital distribution, “We’re seeing some very encouraging signs that younger people are coming into NPR that previously haven’t listened.”

But the conclusion that this is all thanks to podcasting is wrong.

In fact, the way to attract younger listeners is to give them the things they want to listen to on the anytime, anywhere platforms they want to use.

Suggesting that podcasting is “the secret weapon” is to imply that you can take any old content you want, slap an “on-demand” sticker on it, and watch young folks swarm over it as it flies off the digital shelves. This is patently false.

Will making more content available in more places promote more usage for more people? Sure. But that’s a long way from a “secret weapon” to attract younger listeners.

And it’s exactly the opposite strategy of some in the podcasting space who are placing their bets on making podcasts look more like radio in order to presumably make the content more discoverable (good luck with that).

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Podcasting is not “the secret weapon.” Matching the right content to the right audiences on the right platforms is.

In fact, this is the real secret of NPR’s success in attracting younger audiences: Compelling original content created with these audiences in mind and available on demand whenever and wherever these consumers want it.

That’s the real lesson for folks in the audio space.

There is no panacea, no silver bullet, no “secret weapon” that can make old programming young or stale programming fresh.

But if you aspire to create content that sparks the imagination and ignites the passions of younger listeners, then the world is your oyster.

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